MY AFRIKA

SILENCING THE GUNS IN AFRIKA

He who goes to war without the knowledge of peace fights for nothing. He doesn’t understand what peace looks like and will not recognize peace when he meets one.

Peace is a Person and because we all are created in the image of Him who is Peace, we all are peace personified. Meaning that, that little child on his way to school is peace, the woman in the market is peace, the father in the office working to provide food for his family is peace, the flourishing fields of grass for our animals is peace. But how many times have we said we are keeping the peace but the very people who are peace personified are the very same victims of our “peacekeeping”?

The simple truth is that, guns don’t kill people, it is people that kill people.

Much appreciation to the leaders of African Union who declared 2020 as the year of ‘Silencing the Guns: Creating a Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.’

Halfway into 2020, and from all indications, the war to silence the guns in Afrika is still very far away from achieving its aims and somehow it’s easy to tell that humans are more complicated than the dangers of guns on the street. For obviously, guns do not move themselves about nor do they hide themselves from the eyes of those meaning to silence them. That the project to silence the guns in Afrika is still much alive and that many conflicts and wars are still going on in Afrika, even though not many are reported in the media space, shows you that there are those who really love the sound of guns and the laments of those fallen by their bullets.

There are hidden wars and gun conflicts almost in every corner of Afrika. Al-Shabaab doing their atrocities in some borders of Kenya, Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen creating fear in some parts of northern Nigeria, the raging conflict in Mali, the subtle conflicts in Zimbabwe and other parts of Afrika and the most important of all – domestic abuse which is a silent war but whose effects are louder than mortars. While it is ok to go all out to silence the guns in every part of Afrika’s soil, just maybe a critical little look into the wars of words that go on in our Afrikan homes would assist as well.

Words and deeds are also bullets

The human tongue is a fire, a whole world of iniquity when not tamed and trained to speak accurate words that heal rather than kill.

There has been domestic abuse for a long time all over the world and much has not really been achieved as regards dealing with it, but Mr Covid-19 has also clearly come to open some major cans of worms in our Afrikan homes.

Many have avoided the war of words in their homes, using the excuse of going to work, business trips and various other excuses. Some were able to at least leave the kids out of their issues because they were in school, but now that the pandemic lockdown has brought everyone together at home, the things that were swept under the carpet must now be faced. And that has given rise to the issue of increased domestic abuse.

The UN has described the worldwide increase in domestic abuse as a “shadow pandemic” alongside Covid-19. It’s thought that cases have increased by 20% during the lockdown, as many people are trapped at home with their abusers.

I have never been a victim of domestic abuse nor have I ever been an abuser, so I may not really be able to give original scenarios abuse domestic abuse, but I can tell you quite frankly that it doesn’t seem like a good thing to me. Especially when personally I do not appreciate anyone putting my rights and liberty of speech and actions in a box for whatever reason they may claim to have. So from that perspective, I do understand what it would feel like to be trapped, raped, domestically victimized, inhumanely treated, all of which are what guns do with bullets, that is, taking a person’s right to life away with just a pull of a metal trigger. So for me, the fight to silence the guns in Afrika is a noble one but the fight to silence the guns of deadly words and acts of wickedness is much more important. Why? Most of the people both young and old who join terror groups, who go on killing sprees in schools, who maim, oppress and victimize others have at one time or another been victims of the same evil they are trying to unleash on others and because words are like bullets, they always hit their target, which in turn creates a never-ending cycle of terror and revenge, resulting in more killings.

Dealing with the wars of words

Even though words are like bullets from a gun and have the ability to hit their targets, they are not always evil or negative words. Men and women of great achievements were raised because someone spoke words of life into them, giving them a platform of strength to become who they became. To add to this, words are also like seeds and the hearts that hear them are the soil in which these seeds grow.

And because every seed planted in receptive soil grows, coupled with the ability to multiply, it becomes much more important that the silencing the guns project should strongly consider domestic issues that are almost always the foundation for those who get involved with guns and terrorism.

Triggers of domestic violence

I think that just like you have “trigger happy” policemen or women who think that there is some power in making someone submit to their will at gunpoint, so do domestic victimizers believe that forceful obedience makes them feel powerful. However, both cases are nothing but the case of hearts that have been seared and a conscience that is dead to the feelings and pain of others. So you have a terrorist who thinks the whole world owes him something, so he goes about with a gun, killing anyone who does not agree with his foolish ideology. And then the domestic abuser who thinks by all means that every of his or her words is supposed to be received by others as the governing law of the household. He or she too is foolish and both instances are cases of expanded egos and more.

Love from God’s eye-view is first selflessness and the ability to be in the position of others in order to both understand and appreciate them for who they are without any form of influence from our own selfish desires.

But somehow, there are those who get involved with domestic violence, not because they hate other people, but because they actually love and want to be loved and heard by others. It’s kind of weird though to put in the same sentence love and violence. But it appears to be what it is. But to go deeper into this pattern of violence that comes from supposed love and the quest for acceptance, I think people, either by some act of self-programming or by some external influence, have come to attribute selfish desires, emotional entanglements and feelings to love. But love is way beyond that, to say the least. It is beyond feelings of egoistic and selfish emotions. For just like peace, Love is also a person and he who must love is required to love the way the Person called Love, loves.

Love from God’s eye-view is first selflessness and the ability to be in the position of others in order to both understand and appreciate them for who they are without any form of influence from our own selfish desires. An example of this selfish desire called love is recorded in 2 Samuel 13:1-16. It’s a story of rape that happened between Amnon and Tamar, both children of King David of Israel. The story goes on to say that Amnon was so “in love” with Tamar his half-sister that he became so distressed that he became sick. Amnon lured Tamar to his house through the advice of his friend and then he raped her. And the Bible said after the act of rape was done “Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Arise, be gone!” (Please read the entire story for more context and the many other violent deaths that happened based on that single act of domestic violence).

Is it working on the ground?

Obviously, we all as Afrikans, have the responsibility to take very seriously the issue of gun violence on our streets, terror gangs that are wreaking havoc in our rural areas and keenly put in place modalities that will help to fully silence the guns in Afrika.

The Afrikan Union, I can say, have done a pretty good job in calling for an organized attempt to silence the guns in Afrika, but the question that never ceases to bother me is, what is it really like on the ground after the papers have been signed by the heads of state and government of Afrikan countries when they meet at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa? Secondly, are the Afrikan people themselves even aware of the agendas of the AU concerning Afrika? It’s a very sad answer which points to NO more than it points to yes. Personally, as a writer and a constant user of social media for various searches, it was when I was looking for something on the AU website that I realized there was anything like an annual theme or agenda that the AU tries to push every year. And that got me really thinking. One of my thoughts was if I who always use the internet for my searches and studies don’t know anything about what the AU is doing, what about those men and women and youth who are not literate or don’t use the internet? How will they be aware of what’s happening at the AU? Truth be told, I have never seen any AU advert or promotion of any AU event on any social media. Not on Facebook, not on Instagram and not even on Twitter. Recently, I was in a meeting with my wife and two professional content creators. My wife and I were sharing with them about what we do in our magazine and why we do it. I mentioned the AU thematic agenda for 2020, which is to silence the guns in Afrika. Clearly, they were surprised and didn’t waste any time to say they were not aware that AU has such annual thematic agendas. And these are professional Afrikan content creators. They simply are not aware of whatever it is the AU is doing on behalf of the very Afrikans they say they do it for.  My point is, the AU is only present in Addis Ababa and it should not be so.

Another thing I also want to point out is that, for the AU’s agenda to silence the guns in Afrika to work, there must be a good flow of information from the leaders of each Afrikan country to the locals, coupled with a clear and organized method for bringing together these people to defend their environments from the actions of terrorists and bandits that are more frequent in rural areas. See what I mean?

I read an article online that clearly articulates my thoughts. I will share a short excerpt from the article. It’s an article published by The Standard titled: Two Years Later, Locals Sleep Easy As Guns Go Silent.

It’s a story of how for close to two years, guns have been silent on the West Pokot-Turkana border (Kenya) following voluntary disarmament and peace efforts by elders and local leaders. The story went on to say that “The prevailing peace in the region is a result of an initiative by locals and leaders from Pokot and Turkana communities to bury the hatchet and end hostilities.” A beautiful story that shows clearly how silencing the guns in Afrika can work from the ground up.

What this means to me is that, when it comes to silencing the guns in Afrika, we must be able to narrow it down to how such gun-running really works and in which areas it is prevalent. In this case, we have so much of it in the rural areas where security personnel don’t frequent. So, bringing together the locals themselves who are directly affected by this violence, and empowering them with basic defense and security resources, should enable them to defend themselves from the frequent bandit attacks that plague rural areas in Afrika. This is just one of the many ways guns can be silenced in Afrika. But we will certainly do more if we can tame violence from the home front, for nothing happens on the street that does not have some direct or indirect connection to what is going on in the family system.

Stop domestic violence, stop the guns

Certainly, there is nothing new under the sun and so neither is the issue of gun violence that is the result of many things including domestic violence.

We all, as Afrikans, have the singular duty of taming domestic violence, if we really want to silent the guns that are causing bloodshed in our beloved Afrika.

We can do this. So let’s do it.

About the author

Samuel Phillips

Samuel Phillips

A passionate photographer who is inspired by the Unseen to capture the seen.
A singer/songwriter and gospel music minister; a bruised reed I will not break, and a smoking flax I will not quench. A Messenger of Hope, The Hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast in God.

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